An oasis within the city: ‘The Windmill Project’ 

Allison Speir

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Tucked up a winding trail, a stone’s throw from the commercial bustle of North Nevada Avenue, something magical is happening. You’re almost certain to giggle and jump like a happy child when you round the bend and discover an art installation called the “Windmill Project.” 

     The project is a mini-forest of kinetic sculptures “planted” in October of last year by Colorado artist Patrick Marold, with the help of UCCS students and faculty. 

     Marold is based out of Nederland, Colorado, near Boulder.  

     Daisy McGowan, director of the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA), explained that there are 2,000 eight foot tall poles that are stuck in the ground about two feet. Each one has what is called an anemometer at the top which generates an LED downlight. 

     “The Windmill Project” is part of GOCA’s Art WithOut Limits program and is tied to “The Space(s) Between” — a joint project with University of Denver’s art gallery — according to McGowan. 

     She said that in the past, “The Windmill Project” has also graced fields in Vail, Colorado, Vermont and even Iceland.  

     McGowan explained that Marold’s vision behind this project was to show the way the wind moves across the landscape. 

     She said that “when it gets windy all of the windmills shimmer,” because they are activated by the wind. 

The Windmill Project during the daytime.
Photo by Lauren Rock.

     Many of Marold’s projects experiment with renewable energy, with the goal of creating a strong relationship between his audiences and surrounding nature. 

     My family and I visited the site on a recent chilly evening, and soon after we started up the trail, we could see the glow of lights in the distance. As we reached a clearing, our jaws dropped at the beauty and simplicity of the windmills. As the cool wind passed through, the tops spun, bathing us in soft, wind-powered light.   

     The windmills were lined up in rows on both sides of the trail. We ran through the rows with our arms out laughing like school kids in an enchanted forest.  

     Behind the “wind forest” was another trail that wound up a steep hill. We climbed to the top and looked out over the entire installation. Cars were zooming along North Nevada Avenue and the snowcapped mountains glowed in the background. From underneath the windmills to the hill overlooking the city, this exhibit gives you a new perspective on the environment around you. It’s a simple, yet magical, oasis within the city.  

     “The Windmill Project” is close to campus, and a short hike provides a beautiful, peaceful experience. Make sure to plan your visit soon, before the project is removed in October 2021. Windy or calm, during the daytime or at night, you will certainly be blown away by “The Windmill Project.” 

The Windmill Project at nighttime.
Photo by Zach Robbins.

     This project is right by Pulpit Rock, across the street from the Trader Joe’s on Nevada Avenue. If you park in the parking lot by North Campus Heights, just north of the Ent Center for the Arts, and head east, you will reach the trailhead. Then you will take a quick hike up a trail — just follow the signs.  

     The parking lot address for “The Windmill Project” is 760 North Campus Heights, Colorado Springs, CO 80918. Tickets are not required for this exhibit; it is completely free and open to the public. 

     For more information or to plan your visit, see this link